DRC Applauds Draft Recommendations to Reform Texas’ Community College Funding Model

Michael Wood, Managing Director, Education & Workforce

The Texas Commission on Community College Finance has released its initial recommendations to reform the state’s funding model for two-year colleges.

The Commission, established by the 87th Texas Legislature, will now deliver a report, including funding recommendations for Texas’ public junior colleges, to lawmakers by Nov.1. The Commission is largely modeled after the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, whose deliberations ultimately led to the passage of the landmark school finance bill, House Bill 3, in 2019.

The Commission is hoping to replicate the success of its predecessor, whose efforts led to more than $6 billion in new funding for Texas’ public education system.

“The Texas Commission on Community College Finance is truly a once-in-a-career opportunity to transform a crucial component of our state’s higher education infrastructure,” said Jarrad Toussant, Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce for the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC).

If enacted by Texas lawmakers, the Commission’s draft proposals would tie state funding for community colleges to student outcomes, increase access to financial aid offerings to improve community college affordability, and invest in institutional capacity to partner with employers and other community colleges.  To support the Commission’s efforts, the DRC has convened a working group of North Texas industry leaders since January to learn about the state’s community college funding model, meet with community college presidents and Commission members, and develop a set of recommendations for the Commission’s consideration.

Comprised of representatives from 12 DRC member companies, the working group has been the foremost business voice throughout the state advocating for strategic investments in Texas’ community colleges.

“In our rapidly evolving economy, community colleges play a more important role than ever,” said Belen Garren, North Texas Region Manager for JPMorgan Chase and DRC Board member. “Providing these institutions with sufficient and smart state funding will establish Texas as a leader in workforce development.”

The working group’s efforts included a letter to the Commission, expressing support for the initial recommendations and emphasizing several proposals of importance to the business community.

Specifically, the DRC’s working group encouraged the Commission to consider reforming and expanding outcomes-based funding for community colleges, targeting resources toward disadvantaged student populations, streamlining supports for employer-institution partnerships, and establishing dedicated authority over community colleges within the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Several of these proposals were included in the Commission’s initial recommendations.

“The Commission’s recommendations are highly aligned with the needs of the business community,” said Chris Peck, Senior Vice President and Dallas Office Leader for JE Dunn Construction. “The focus on outcomes and partnerships with employers will go a long way in addressing our region’s most pressing workforce needs.”

The DRC now eagerly awaits the Commission’s final report, which will guide state lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session as they seek to overhaul Texas’ community college finance system. The Commission is expected to approve their final report during an Oct.18 meeting.

To learn more about the Texas Commission on Community College Finance or the DRC’s related efforts, please contact Michael Wood, Managing Director of Education & Workforce, at mwood@dallaschamber.org.